The Quest for Calm: A New Dad Tries Three of Philly’s Top Relaxation Techniques

Illustration by James Boyle

My right wrist is … a nutcracker. My left wrist is … a pepper grinder. My neck is … a string of firecrackers.

Naked and preternaturally buoyant in the high-saline water of a pitch-black float tank, I spent quite a bit of time pondering the timbre and rhythm of each of my popping 43-year-old joints.

I’m sorry. I’m bragging.

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The Sneaky Reason You’re Not Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

It’s probably not just your annoying neighbors keeping you up at night, a new study shows. According to a recent study conducted by researchers at Northwestern Medicine and Rush University Medical Center, to be published in the journal Sleep Science and Practice, there’s actually a pretty glaring connection between having a sense of purpose in your life and getting a good night’s sleep.

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The Checkup: Why Avocados Are So Expensive Right Now

• It’s not all in your imagination: The price of avocados is the highest its been in 19 years due to a serious increase in demand (Mexican shipments to the U.S. have spiked from 24 million pounds of avocados in 2000 to 1.76 BILLION pounds in 2015) and a decrease in crop. And analyst Roland Fumasi says the prices will probably stay eleveated through summer. Womp, womp. [Bloomberg]

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Stop Everything: Wanderlust 108 Just Announced Philly Date for 2017

Wanderlust 108 Brooklyn | Photo courtesy Wanderlust

Wanderlust 108  | Photo courtesy Wanderlust

Mondays are hard. Which is why I was maybe a little too excited (like audibly-shrieking-in-my-office excited) when I got an email this afternoon saying that Wanderlust 108 — that’s the “mindful triathlon” that pairs an noncompetitive 5K with a giant outdoor yoga session, complete with a DJ, then ends with guided meditation for all — had announced its 2017 date for Philly.

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The Skeptical Person’s Guide to Kick-Starting a Meditation Practice

We feel you: It can be hard to feel like you have room for meditation in your life — another thing to do?! — when you’re just so busy with life as it is. That’s why we reached out to Daphne Lyon, a meditation teacher and 500-hour registered yoga teacher at Amrita Yoga and Wellness who also surfs and teaches paddleboard yoga with Aqua Vida SUP. In case you couldn’t tell, she’s a busy gal who can relate to the daily grind.

“You have probably meditated before when you were on a run, knitting, painting or anytime you felt in the zone, completely focused, present, and in the moment,” Lyon says. “The practice of meditation is just that, but more controlled and with intention. We set the intention that we want to bring our awareness to in the present moment by watching the breath.”

We caught up with her for a Q&A about how to jumpstart your own meditation practice. (For starters, you can try her 3-minute guided meditation, because you KNOW you have three minutes!).Who knows? It could just be life-changing. As she says, “I feel so grateful for the ability to share this powerful practice with the community because the results are always amazing, no matter how big or small, and the practice truly transforms your life.”

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The Checkup: These Are Philly’s Most Popular Running Spots

• Strava and Runner’s World teamed up to figure out where folks log the most miles in 20 big cities in the US. Any ideas for Philly? Fine, fine, we’ll tell you (though you probably could’ve guessed): The two most popular Philly running spots are — can I get a drumroll? — the Ben Franklin Bridge and the Schuylkill River Trail. [Runner’s World]

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Philadelphia Sex Diaries: I Practice Orgasmic Meditation

Collage by Kevin Burzynski

Collage by Kevin Burzynski

I came to the practice of Orgasmic Meditation nine years ago via a circuitous 20-year route of other practices: yoga, seated meditation, bodywork. I haven’t found a more powerful catalyst for really effecting change in my life than OM.

Orgasm, the way I know it, is indirect, unpredictable, expansive, inclusive. It’s a state rather than an event. What the rest of the world calls “orgasm,” we call “climax”: part of orgasm, but far from the whole story. If the climax is the cymbal crash in a symphony, we’re looking at the whole symphony. We learn to up our attention to the more subtle stuff; the low oboe line is just as interesting and relevant.

OM is a 15-minute partnered practice in which a stroker strokes the upper-left quadrant of a woman’s clitoris with no goal except to feel what arises. The stroker is fully clothed, and the strokee is undressed from the waist down. It’s a strict 15 minutes — we set a timer. Part of the beauty of the practice is that it’s so self-contained; I know exactly what’s going to happen in those 15 minutes. The protocol of the practice is quite rigid. This isn’t a professional service, like getting a haircut or a massage. Rather, it’s a community of folks who practice, meaning they’re co-creating an experience. The whole notion of giver and receiver falls away. It’s more like jazz. The bassist isn’t giving Miles Davis a bass line. Rather, they’re both just responding in pitch-perfect resonance to the thing that’s between them.

Both stroker and strokee train in this practice — private training is three sessions to get started. (My intro package is $450, for about three to four hours of instruction.) After training, all practice sessions are free. Once you’re trained, you’re added to a private community page or forum, and that’s where you find partners for your practice. There are probably about 500 or so folks who have learned to OM in Philly. It’s not like a dating app, either. I OM with people I would never date, and I’ve had amazing experiences with partners I don’t know socially. All genders train and practice — of course, you need a minimum of one clitoris to practice. Usually it’s done in somebody’s home; just like you’d have a friend over for tea, you have a friend over for an OM.

We look at orgasm as a flow state, something bigger that overtakes you. It’s so different from other sexuality practices out there. It’s not “15 tricks to blow her mind tonight!” It’s more similar to the Slow Food movement, which took all the crap out of our food so that we can learn to truly taste how, say, an apple tastes. This is learning to feel again.

I expected OM to change my romantic relationship, and it did — it improved our communication, and we became more honest with each other. But I was blown away by the impact it had on my other relationships. The range of people I enjoy has expanded infinitely. I have more empathy and better boundaries, and I’ve learned to ask for and receive what I want more fully. Practicing that, day in and day out, with the most sensitive part of my body has made it so much more available when my pants go on and I’m out in the world. I’m nine years into this practice, and the only things I know for sure are that I’ve never had the same experience twice in an OM, and I’ll never feel all of my orgasm. And that’s the beauty of it: This terrain is infinite.

» See All of Our Philadelphia Sex Diaries

How These Philly Yoga Teachers Are Using an Unexpected Tool to Spur Social Action

For many, this past November 9th was filled with a LOT of questions, starting with “WTF?” and “Holy crap, what are we going to doooo?” A few months later, a good chunk of us can probably say we’re still saying “WTF” on a daily basis — in my case, often in response to upsetting headlines filling my Facebook Newsfeed — but have yet to do much to try to make change in a world that seems to need a whole lot of fixing.

And maybe it’s just that: The world needs SO much fixing — where are we supposed to start? That’s where Meditate Your Action, a local group founded this December by Philly yoga teachers Katy Kopnitsky and Emily Tara Sabalbaro, comes in.

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